ECHO PARK — Residents from Echo Park and Angeleno Heights got a peek last week at renderings and plans for a 27-unit Sunset Boulevard apartment building that would be shaded with a metal skin, a design that met with a mixed reaction.
The building designed and developed by architect Warren Techentin – who also created the temporary La Cage aux Folles art installation in Silver Lake – would rise on a now vacant lot near Shepard Fairey’s art studio and offices on Sunset Boulevard and Elysian Park Avenue. “The building design is very modern and utilizes layers of “skins” and angular “beaks” that improve efficiency,” said Jennifer Deines, a resident who helped arrange the meeting hosted by the Echo Park Improvement Assn. “The metal ‘skin’ outer layer is designed to take on the initial thermal impacts, thereby shading the walls from direct impact. The angular beaks (mesh awnings) are designed to shade from direct sunlight at peak hours.”
Most of the 20 people in attendance expressed varied levels of support for Techentin’s design, calling it “innovative” and “high quality” according to Deines. But about a quarter of the group did not like what they saw, describing it as “harsh” and “institutional” and not a good fit for the neighborhood, she said.
Mike Conley was one of the meeting goers who was critical of the design. “It’s awful. Truly,” said Conley in an email. “It’s one of those snazzy “uber-modern” designs (read: a jumble of unrelated shapes with no unified vision other than Chaos) that will be outdated and downright embarrassing in just a few years.”
There appeared to be universal consensus, however, that the cutting edge building needed some old-fashioned, ground-floor shops or commercial space, which is included in many of the existing buildings along Sunset Boulevard. Techentin agreed but noted that adding retail could face a complicated city approval process.
Council District 1 as well as the improvement association said they would back efforts to win a variance to allow for ground-level retail space.
Techentin’s group is awaiting additional funds before it breaks ground on the project, which would be composed of tw0-story, loft apartments ranging in size from 800 square-foot to more than 1,200 square-feet.